Resource Person: Katia Bianchini
For more detailed information on resettlement to the UK, a full country profile can be viewed here at Know Reset.
The UK has three programs for the resettlement of refugees: the Gateway Protection Programme, the Mandate Refugee Programme, and the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme.
The Gateway Protection Programme is operated by Home Office (HO), which receives referrals from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Programme allows up to 750 refugees every year to enter the UK for resettlement.
The applicant must be a Convention refugee, that is a refugee under the terms of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (hereafter '1951 Convention' and '1967 Protocol').
In addition, the applicant’s liberty, safety, health, or other fundamental human rights must be at risk in the country where he/she has sought refuge; or, he/she must be facing no possibility of long-term security in that country.
The Mandate Refugee Programme is applicable to mandate refugees only, that is individuals who have been granted refugee status by UNHCR.
The application is made at local UNHCR office and, if it passes the first screening, is referred to the HO for the final decision. The application can be made at the British embassy if there is no UNHCR office in the country of refuge. The application of a mandate refugee is considered within the normal asylum process.
Mandate refugees have no entitlement to asylum in the UK and UNHCR recognition of mandate refugee status is not binding on the UK. However the UK Border Agency accepts that in determining the asylum claim of a mandate refugee the decision maker must give mandate status due weight and take it into account when assessing credibility and determining the risk on return.
Applicants may make a claim to asylum, based upon a fear of persecution in the country of origin, and/or a claim based on a fear of persecution in the country in which they were recognised as refugees under UNHCR’s mandate.
Furthermore, the refugee must have close ties to the UK: this is usually interpreted as having close family members, but also possible history such as periods spent in the UK as a student. Close family members are defined as the refugee’s spouse, children under the age of 18, parents and grandparents over the age of 65. Only in exceptional circumstances the following family members would meet the close-tie requirement: parent/grandparent under 65, adult son or daughter, sister, brother, aunt, uncle. The family members in the UK do not need to have been accepted as refugees, but must be settled or have limited leave in a category leading to settlement.
The Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme is meant to resettle up to to 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament.
The UNHCR must still assess each individual case before referring them to the HO. The HO must conduct visa checks and at the same time a place must be found in a local authority.
Persons to prioritise are those who cannot be supported effectively in their region of origin: women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence amongst others.
Once the screening process has been completed a full medical assessment is conducted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the host country. Full details of the case and medical history are sent to the local authority for assessment of need, including whether suitable accommodation and care are available locally. Eligibility is then confirmed and IOM start the visa application process. UK Visas and Immigration International issue UK visas (3 months Leave Outside of the Rules) and on arrival, arrangements are made for Biometric Residence Permits to be issued with 5 years’ humanitarian protection.
Family Reunification for Resettled Refugees
If the person is a recognised refugee or is benefiting from humanitarian protection in the UK, the family reunion programme allows him/her to be reunited with his/her family members (that is, those who were part of the family unit before he/she fled).
Only pre-existing families (the spouse, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner plus any children under 18 who formed part of the family unit at the time the sponsor fled to seek asylum) can apply to enter the UK. However, UKBA may allow family reunion for other family members if there are compassionate reasons why their case should be considered outside the Immigration Rules.
The application is made at the British embassy of the country where the family members are living.
Indefinite leave as the parent, grandparent or other dependent relative of a person present and settled in the UK
The new rules are set out in Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules state that a person can apply for indefinite leave to enter the UK at the British embassy of the country where he/she is residing if the following requirements are met:
is related to a person present and settled in the UK, a British citizen or a refugee in one of the following ways:
- parent aged 18 years or over;
- brother or sister aged 18 years or over; or
- son or daughter aged 18 years or over
The applicant or, if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner, must as a result of age, illness or disability require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks
The applicant or, if the applicant and their partner are the sponsor’s parents or grandparents, the applicant’s partner, must be unable, even with the practical and financial help of the sponsor, to obtain the required level of care in the country where they are living, because-
- (a) it is not available and there is no person in that country who can reasonably provide it; or
- (b) it is not affordable
- both parents are present and settled or are being admitted on the same occasion in the UK; or
- one parent is present and settled in the UK and the other is being admitted on the same occasion for settlement; or
- one parent is present and settled in the UK or being admitted on the same occasion for settlement and the other parent is dead; or
- one parent is present and settled in the UK or being admitted on the same occasion for settlement and has had sole responsibility for the child's upbringing; or
- one parent or a relative is present and settled in the UK or being admitted on the same occasion for settlement and there are serious and compelling family or other considerations which make exclusion of the child undesirable and suitable arrangements have been made for the child's care;
- is under the age of 18; and
- is not leading an independent life, is unmarried, and has not formed an independent family unit; and
- will be accommodated and maintained adequately without recourse to public funds.